1st Edition

Routledge Companion to Audiences and the Performing Arts

    580 Pages 24 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    580 Pages 24 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The Routledge Companion to Audiences and the Performing Arts represents a truly multi-dimensional exploration of the inter-relationships between audiences and performance.

    This study considers audiences contextually and historically, through both qualitative and quantitative empirical research, and places them within appropriate philosophical and socio-cultural discourses. Ultimately, the collection marks the point where audiences have become central and essential not just to the act of performance itself but also to theatre, dance, opera, music and performance studies as academic disciplines.

    This Companion will be of great interest to academics, researchers and postgraduates, as well as to theatre, dance, opera and music practitioners and performing arts organisations and stakeholders involved in educational activities.

    The Paradox of Audiences

    Matthew Reason, Lynne Conner, Katya Johanson and Ben Walmsley

    Part One: Histories, Theories and Questions of Social Justice


    Lynne Conner

    1. Ellen Dissanayake in Conversation

    Ellen Dissanayake and Lynne Conner

    2. Histories of Audiencing: On Evidence, Mythology and Nostalgia

    Helen Freshwater

    3. Disrupting the Audience as Monolith

    Lynne Conner

    4. Who? Why? and How?: The Contribution of Sociology to the Study of Arts Audiences and Where it Needs Help

    Laurie Hanquinet

    5. The Future of Audiences and Audiencing

    Jennifer Novak Leonard

    6. Which Global? Which Local?: Aucitya, Rasa, Development, Ase and other Demands on the Audience

    Glenn Odom and Giri Raghunathan

    7. Forced Experiences: Shifting Modes of Audience Involvement in Immersive Performances

    Doris Kolesch and Theresa Schütz

    Part Two: Policies, Politics and Practices


    Ben Walmsley

    8. Alan Brown in Conversation

    Alan Brown and Emma McDowell

    9. Are We the Baddies?: Audience Development, Cultural Policy and Ideological Precarity

    Steven Hadley



    10. At what cost? Working Class Audiences and the Price of Culture

    Maria Barrett

    11. A ‘Universal Design’ for Audiences with Disabilities?

    Bree Hadley

    12. Fans and Fandom in the Performing Arts

    Kirsty Sedgman

    13. The Role of the Audience in Forum and Interactive Theatre: Perspectives from Bangladesh

    Meghna Guhathakurta

    14. Audience Engagement and the Production of Efficacious Theatre: Case Studies from Ghana

    Awo Mana Asiedu

    15. Critical Perspectives on Valuing Culture: Tensions and Disconnections between Research, Policy and Practice

    Ben Walmsley and Julian Meyrick

    Part Three: Methods, Methodologies and Understanding Audiences


    Matthew Reason

    16. Martin Barker in Conversation

    Martin Barker and Matthew Reason

    17. Mixing Methods in Audience Research Practice: A multi-method(ological) discussion

    Emma McDowell

    18. Quantifying the Dance Spectacle in the Audience’s Mind: A Methodological Quest for Neuroscience Research

    Corinne Jola

    19. Continuous and Collective Measures of Real-Time Audience Engagement

    L.S. Merritt Millman, Guido Orgs and Daniel Richardson

    20. Audience Interaction: Approaches to Researching the Social Dynamics of Live Audiences

    Patrick G.T. Healey, Matthew T. Harris and Michael F. Schober

    21. Quantitative Measures of Audience Experience

    Wing Tung Au, Zhumeng Zuo and Paton Pak Chun Yam

    22. The Benefits and Challenges of Large-Scale Qualitative Research

    Stephanie Pitts and Sarah Price

    23. Creative Methods and Audience Research: Affordances and Radical Potential

    Matthew Reason


    24. Ethics in Audience Research: By the Book or on the Hop?

    Katya Johanson and Hilary Glow

    Part Four: Shorts: Adventures in Thinking About Audiences


    Katya Johanson

    25. Affect

    Lucy Thornett

    26. Agency

    Astrid Breel

    27. Co-Creation

    Michael Pinchbeck and Rachel Baynton

    28. Covid-19

    Tully Barnett

    29. Data

    Rishi Coupland

    30. Dialogue

    Maddy Costa

    31. Integrated and Inclusive

    Vipavinee Artpradid

    32. Labour

    Martin Young

    33. Language

    Michelle Loh

    34. Laughter

    Natalie Diddams

    35. Marginalia

    Helen Yung

    36. Memory

    Elaine Faull

    37. One-to-One

    Rachel Gomme

    38. Pantomime

    Robert Marsden

    39. Post-Humanity

    Fayen D’Evie

    40. Post-Show

    Diane Ragsdale

    41. Rehearsal

    Anja Ali Haapala

    42. Relaxed

    Lauren Hall and Paul Wilshaw

    43. Risk

    Ella de Búrca

    44. Sickness

    Verónica Rodríguez

    45. Thresholds

    Stefania Donini

    46. Touch

    Elena S.V. Flys

    Afterword: Covid-19, Audiences, and the Future of the Performing Arts

    Matthew Reason, Lynne Conner, Katya Johanson and Ben Walmsley















    List of Contributors


    Matthew Reason is Professor of Theatre and Director of the Institute for Social Justice at York St John University, UK. His current focus is on experiential and phenomenological responses to theatre and dance performance, including through qualitative and participatory audience research. His books include Documentation, Disappearance and the Representation of Live Performance (2006), The Young Audience (2010), Kinesthetic Empathy in Creative and Cultural Contexts (with Dee Reynolds 2012), Experiencing Liveness (with Anja Lindelof 2016) and Applied Practice: Evidence and Impact across Theatre, Music and Dance (with Nick Rowe 1017). For further information visit www.matthewreason.com

    Lynne Conner is Professor and Chair of the Department of Theatre at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, USA. Her audience studies publications include Audience Engagement and the Role of Arts Talk in the Digital Era (2013) and Project Brief: The Heinz Endowments’ Arts Experience Initiative (2008) as well as chapters and articles in numerous books and journals. Keynote and plenary addresses (among others): International Network for Audience Research in the Performing Arts/University of Leeds, Institute of the Americas/University of Toulouse, University of Chicago Cultural Policy Center, Salzburg Global Seminar, Toronto Creative Trust, National Performing Arts Convention, Wallace Foundation, International Society of Performing Arts Presenters, Boston Foundation/Massachusetts Cultural Council, Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, Grantmakers in the Arts, Dance USA, and the American Symphony Orchestra League.

    Katya Johanson is Professor of Audience Research at Deakin University, Australia. Often in collaboration with public cultural policy agencies, she researches the ways the arts impact on people’s lives and beliefs. This includes the impact of transnational work on cultural and political beliefs, of reading on teenagers’ lives, and of the arts on local communities. Katya is the co-editor of The Audience Experience: A critical analysis of audiences in the performing arts, Chief Investigator on an Australian Research Council project on teenager leisure reading practices, and a board member for Cultural Trends.

    Ben Walmsley is Professor of Cultural Engagement in the School of Performance and Cultural Industries at the University of Leeds and Director of the Centre for Cultural Value, UK. Prior to his academic career, he worked as an arts manager for ten years, most recently as a Producer at the National Theatre of Scotland. Ben is the Co-Editor of Arts and the Market and has published widely on arts marketing, arts management, cultural policy and cultural value. His monograph Audience Engagement in the Performing Arts: A critical analysis was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2019.








    Anja Ali-Haapala is an independent dance researcher and educator based in Brisbane, Australia. Her research focuses on experiences of dance as audience members and recreational dancers. This work informs and is informed by her community dance practice. Anja is a co-chair of the World Dance Alliance Asia-Pacific Research & Documentation Network and the Dance Early Career Researchers Community. She holds a PhD and BFA from Queensland University of Technology.

    Vipavinee Artpradid is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Centre for Dance Research (C-DaRE), Coventry University. Her PhD research applied phenomenography to understand the phenomenon known as disability in audiences of inclusive dance. With roots as an educator-researcher in Singapore and Thailand, she has explored alternative learning pedagogies and queer disidentification through Spanish dance. Her current research interests include audience engagement, disability in the context of dance, embodied approaches to phenomenography, pedagogy, and film theory.

    Awo Mana Asiedu is a Senior Lecturer and currently the Acting Director of the School of Performing Arts of the University of Ghana, Legon. She is a member of the Executive Committee of the International Federation of Theatre Research (IFTR) and a member of several boards and committees. Awo currently serves as a contributing editor of Theatre Research International.

    Winton Wing Tung Au is Associate Professor in Department of Psychology at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. He started doing experimental research on cooperation but somehow developed an interest in drama. He is too bad at acting so he does research instead on performing arts examining audience experiences and motivations. He is driving the initiative "One Month One Art" that encourages people to take part in an art event once a month.

    Rachel Baynton is co-artistic director of Proto-type Theater (UK), a company of multi-disciplinary artists creating original performance. She has written, directed, and produced work with venues and communities around the country, and is a regular presenter for BBC Radio. She is currently Lecturer and Creative Engagement Producer for the University of Lincoln.

    Martin Barker is Emeritus Professor at Aberystwyth University, and Visiting Professor at UWE, Bristol (UK). Across a long research career, he has explored topics including contemporary British racism, media panics, censorship campaigns and audience research. He helped found, and has since edited, the journal Participations.

    Dr Tully Barnett is a Senior Lecturer in Creative Industries at Flinders University (South Australia). She researches ways we understand the benefits created by the arts and culture sector with Laboratory Adelaide: The Value of Culture. She is co-author of What Matters? Talking Value in Australian Culture (Monash University Publishing 2018). She is Deputy Director of Assemblage Centre for Creative Arts, and a board member for the Australasian Association for Digital Humanities and the Australasian Consortium of Humanities Research Centres.

    Maria Barrett is Associate Professor in the Centre for Cultural and Media Policy Studies at the University of Warwick (UK), where she is Course Director for International Cultural Policy and Management. Maria is currently working on AHRC-funded research into the impacts of Covid 19 on the cultural industries in the UK and evaluating the National Theatre’s Theatre Nation Partnerships programme.

    Rachel Baynton is co-artistic director of Proto-type Theater, a company of multi-disciplinary artists creating original performance. Critics have called their work ‘an intriguing brush with altered reality’ (New York Times) and ‘smartly intelligent, coolly reasoned theatre’ (The Guardian). She has written, directed, and produced work with venues and communities around the country, and is a regular presenter for BBC Radio. She is Lecturer and Creative Engagement Producer for the University of Lincoln.

    Dr Astrid Breel is a researcher and educator, whose work explores participation, agency, co-production and impact within an interdisciplinary context. Her work examines how participants find meaning in their participation and how their intangible experiences might be captured. Astrid is the Impact Research Fellow at Bath Spa University, an Associate of Coney (who make theatre for playful audiences) and a member of artist-led organisation Residence in Bristol, UK.

    Alan Brown, principal of WolfBrown (USA), is a leading researcher and management consultant in the arts and culture sector. His work focuses on understanding consumer demand for cultural experiences and on helping cultural institutions, foundations and agencies to see new opportunities, make informed decisions and respond to changing conditions. Visit www.wolfbrown.com for more information.

    Ella de Búrca (Ireland) works through performance, sculpture and poetry to focus on how humans construct meaning, particularly from a female perspective. She is especially interested in how we perform as 'viewer,' and the discourse surrounding active versus passive experiences. Her work is usually site-specific and temporary. She is currently pursuing a practice-based PhD at KU Leuven, Belgium.

    Maddy Costa is a UK-based writer, dramaturg and host of conversations inspired by theatre. She contributes reviews to Exeunt and collaborates with theatre-makers to creatively document their work. With Mary Paterson and Diana Damian Martin she is co-host of Something Other and the Department of Feminist Conversations, inter-related platforms for experimental writing and critical dialogue.

    Rishi Coupland is Head of Data Intelligence at the National Theatre, where he leads the Data Studio. Prior to this, he was Head of Audience Strategy (National Theatre) and Marketing Services Manager (Southbank Centre). Rishi began his career as an engineer in locations across Europe. In 2017 Rishi was awarded a Clore Fellowship. Rishi is a board member of the Arts Marketing Association and London Arts and Health Forum.

    Fayen Ke-Xiao d'Evie is a blind-ish artist and writer, born in Malaysia, raised in Aotearoa, and now living on Jaara country, Australia. She is the founder of 3-ply, which experiments with publishing as a site for the creation, mutation, dispersal, and archiving of texts. Fayen provides creative provocations and pedagogical guidance to arts institutions committed to ambitious curation of disability-led practice. She is a lecturer in Communication Design, RMIT University.

    Natalie Diddams recently completed her PhD at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her thesis was entitled Making Waves: Comedy, Humour and Laughter as Fourth Wave Feminisms. She is a Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University and an Associate Lecturer at University of Warwick. She is a member of the Mixed Bill research collective, and her work has been published in Conjunctions (2019), Comedy Studies (2020) and Research in Drama Education (2020).

    Stefania Donini works as Audience Research Officer for the Paisley Museum Re-imagined project (Renfrewshire, Scotland). She completed her PhD on audiences and public spaces, funded through the Barbican-Guildhall studentship. Her academic research and professional experience in Italy and the UK are focused on audience engagement, participation and public programming.

    Ellen Dissanayake is an ethologist and cultural theorist. She is currently Affiliate Professor in the School of Music at the University of Washington (USA). Her books include Early Rock Art of the American West: The Geometric Enigma; L’infanzia dell’Estetica: L’Origine Evolutiva delle Practiche Artistiche; Art and Intimacy: How the Arts Began; Homo Aestheticus: Where Art Comes From and Why, and What is Art For?

    Elaine Faull is an audience researcher. Since obtaining a PhD in Theatre Practice at the University of Exeter, she has continued to evaluate theatre productions in the South West of the UK, in the fields of Outdoor Theatre, Community Theatre and Children’s Theatre. Her longitudinal inter-disciplinary research contributes to the fields of audience studies, memory studies and emotional well-being, and discusses the impact of theatre performance on primary-aged children’s learning.

    Dr Elena SV Flys is Professor in Arts Administration at TAI University Center for the Arts. Her research focuses on accessibility, audience reception, and social integration. She designs accessibility for theatre productions in the US and Spain. This Short was supported by the James H. Brickley Endowment for Faculty Professional Development and Innovation at EMU.

    Helen Freshwater is a Reader in Theatre and Performance at the University of Newcastle (UK). She has a long-standing research interest in theatre audiences. Her publications in this area include Theatre & Audience (2009) and ‘British Theatre Audiences since 1945: ownership, interaction, agency’, forthcoming in The Cambridge Companion to British Theatre Since 1945. She was Co-Investigator on ‘Understanding Audiences for the Contemporary Arts’, a 36-month AHRC-funded project which concluded in 2020.

    Hilary Glow is Professor in the Department of Management at Deakin University, Australia, and Director of the Arts and Cultural Management Program. Her research is in the areas of arts and cultural impact, audience engagement and diversification, evaluation processes for arts/cultural organisations, and the impact of arts programs on people’s views of cultural diversity. She is co-director of Cultural Impact Projects - a research hub of academics from diverse fields addressing the impact of arts and cultural practices.

    Rachel Gomme is an independent artist and researcher based in London. Her practice centres on site-specific performance and one-to-one interactions, and invites attention to the sharing of bodily being in the performance encounter, and to how organic being (including humans) inhabits urban space. Current research focuses on material and energetic relationships between humans and trees in cities, through exploration of the bodily thinking of each.

    Meghna Guhathakurta is currently Executive Director of Research Initiatives, Bangladesh (RIB), a research support organised based in Dhaka which specialises in action research with marginalised communities. Prior to that, she taught International Relations at the University of Dhaka. Meghna specialises in international development, gender relations and minority politics. She has published widely on migration trends in Partition histories, peace-building in post conflict societies and minority rights in South Asia. She is also Associate Editor of the Action Research Journal.

    Bree Hadley is Associate Professor in Drama at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. She is editor of The Routledge Handbook of Disability Arts Culture and Media (with Donna McDonald, Routledge 2019), author of Disability, Public Space Performance & Spectatorship: Unconscious Performers (Palgrave 2014), and has published extensively in journals such as Disability & Society, Performance Research, Journal of Arts and Communities, MC Media And Culture Journal, Australasian Drama Studies, and Brolga: An Australian Journal About Dance.

    Steven Hadley is an academic, consultant and researcher working internationally in arts management, cultural policy and audience engagement. He is currently a Research Fellow at National University of Ireland Galway and Visiting Lecturer at Leuphana University of Lüneburg (Germany) and has held research posts at the universities of Sheffield, Bradford, and Leeds. Steven is an Associate Consultant with The Audience Agency and sits on the Steering Committee of the Cultural Research Network and the Editorial Boards of both Cultural Trends and the European Journal of Cultural Management and Policy. Steven’s research focuses on cultural democracy, audience engagement and cultural leadership. His book, Audience Development and Cultural Policy, is published by Palgrave MacMillan.

    Lauren Hall is a PhD researcher in a collaboration between York St John University and leading learning disability arts organisation Mind the Gap Theatre Company, UK. The focus of the research has been into questions of visibility, career opportunities and leadership development of learning disabled artists.

    Laurie Hanquinet is an Associate Professor in Sociology at the Université libre de Bruxelles (Belgium). Her work focuses on cultural hierarchies and social stratification. She has undertaken research on the audiences of art museums, and on different dimensions of cultural engagement. She is the author of Du musée aux pratiques culturelles. Enquête sur les publics de musée d’art moderne et contemporain (2014) and the co-editor of The Routledge International Handbook of sociology of culture and art (2016).

    Matthew Tobias Harris uses live data to research human interaction and transform events. His PhD ‘Liveness: an interactional account’ investigated performer–audience–audience dynamics by instrumenting auditoriums and staging a series of live performance experiments.

    Patrick Healey is Professor of Human Interaction and leads the Cognitive Science Research Group in the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science at Queen Mary University of London (UK). He is also an Alan Turing Fellow. Healey’s research focuses on how digitial technologies can be designed to enable richer and more expressive forms of human communication.

    Corinne Jola is a cognitive neuroscientist and dancer/choreographer at Abertay University (UK). Her research and practice at the intersection of dance and science makes her a strong communicator between the disciplines. She has published widely on the cognitive and neuronal underpinnings of dance; and her artistic work has been staged across Europe.

    Doris Kolesch is Professor of Theatre and Performance Studies at Freie Universität Berlin (Germany) and Co-Director of the Collaborative Research Center ‘Affective Societies. Dynamics of social coexistence in Mobile Worlds’ where she heads a research project on ‘Reenacting Emotions.’ She co-edited Staging Spectators in Immersive Performances. Commit Yourself! (Routledge 2019).

    Michelle Loh is Lecturer with the Faculty of Creative Industries, BA and MA Arts Management programmes at LASALLE College of the Arts. She teaches arts policy and research in the arts. She is currently on an academic scholarship for EdD studies with University of Western Australia. Michelle serves on the Executive Committee of Poetry Festival Singapore and is editor for Traditional Chinese Music in Contemporary Singapore (Pagesetters, 2020).

    Dr Robert Marsden is Head of Department of Media and Performance and Associate Professor of Acting and Directing at Staffordshire University. His is author of Inside the Rehearsal Room (Bloomsbury, January 2022). He has directed over 25 professional pantomimes (notably a decade at the Victoria Theatre Halifax for Imagine Theatre) and has worked in both subsidised and commercial theatre across the UK and Europe.

    Emma McDowell is an arts professional and postgraduate researcher at the University of Leeds (UK), with broad experience in arts marketing, audience development, theatre producing, audience and cultural value research. Their PhD research explores the processes of theatre-making, marketing and audience engagement in contemporary theatre practice through the enactive theoretical framing of participatory sense-making.

    L.S. Merritt Millman is a UK-based researcher, dancer and choreographer. Having completed a MA in Choreography at Trinity Laban in London, she is currently pursuing a PhD in Psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her research interests include interoception and embodied cognition, with a specific examination of bodily awareness in the clinical condition depersonalisation-derealisation disorder (DDD).

    Julian Meyrick is Professor of Creative Arts at Griffith University. He is Literary Adviser for the Queensland Theatre and General Editor of Currency House’s Platform Paper series. He was Associate Director and Literary Advisor at Melbourne Theatre Company 2002-07 and Artistic Director of kickhouse theatre 1989-98. He has directed over 40 award-winning theatre productions. He has published numerous books and articles on Australian arts and culture.

    Jennifer L. Novak-Leonard is the Director of Northwestern University’s MS in Leadership for Creative Enterprises programme (USA). She specialises in the development and use of novel measurement systems to understand cultural participation and the personal and public values derived from these experiences to inform multiple domains of public and social policy. Her research has addressed topics such as immigrant integration, higher education, and public funding.

    Glenn Odom is a Reader at Roehampton University (UK). He is currently completing research on intercultural theatre and a more global understanding of globalization. His books include World Theories of Theatre (Routledge 2017) and Yoruba Performance, Theatre, and Politics: Staging Resistance (2015), and explore theories and practices of theatre and performance across Europe, Asia, and Africa.

    Guido Orgs is Co-Director of the MSc in Psychology of the Arts, Neuroaesthetics and Creativity in the Department of Psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London (UK). His research combines the cognitive neuroscience of performing and perceiving movement and the Neuroaesthetics of Dance. He is currently the Principal Investigator of NEUROLIVE, a 5-year EU-funded interdisciplinary research project to understand what makes live experiences special.

    Michael Pinchbeck is Reader in Theatre at Manchester Metropolitan University. His one-to-one performances include The Long and Winding Road (2004-2009) and Sit with me for a moment and remember (2014-2019), which toured the UK and Germany and was shown at the Edinburgh Fringe 2018. Recent work explores the relationship between musicality, dramaturgy and immersive theatre. Recent publications include Staging Loss: Performance as Commemoration and Acts of Dramaturgy: The Shakespeare Trilogy.

    Stephanie Pitts is Professor in Music at the University of Sheffield (UK), with research interests in musical participation, arts audiences, and lifelong learning. Her books include Chances and Choices: Exploring the Impact of Music Education (2012), Coughing and Clapping (2014), and Understanding Audience Engagement in the Contemporary Arts (2021). She is director of the Sheffield Performer and Audience Research Centre (sparc.dept.shef.ac.uk).

    Sarah Price is a Research Associate in the Sheffield Performer and Audience Research Centre at The University of Sheffield (UK) and co-author of Understanding Audience Engagement in the Contemporary Arts (2021). She is currently working on a Covid-19 response project, documenting the impact of the pandemic on arts and culture in Sheffield.

    Orcid: 0000-0002-8655-5458

    Diane Ragsdale (MFA, BFA, BS) is a speaker, writer, lecturer, and advisor on arts and culture topics. She leads a workshop series on Aesthetic Values in a Changed Cultural Context for Yale University. She previously built an MA in Arts Management and Entrepreneurship for artists at The New School and oversaw theater and dance grantmaking at The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. She authors the blog, Jumper, on ArtsJournal.com and is author of ‘To What End Permanence?’ for A Moment on the Clock of the World (Haymarket Books 2019).

    Giridhar Raghunathan is a professional dancer, teacher, researcher, author, and public speaker. He holds an MFA in Bharatanatyam from Bharathidasan University, India, and an MTech in Medical Nanotechnology from SASTRA University, India. He has compiled a book titled Bharta Nrtta Bhaashyam, a primer for the students of bharatanatyam. He is currently a Visiting Lecturer and PhD candidate at the University of Roehampton in the UK.

    Daniel C. Richardson is a Professor of Experimental Psychology at University College London (UK). His research examines how individuals' thought processes are related to the people around them. He has authored scientific articles in cognitive, developmental and social psychology and two popular science books, Man vs Mind and A Dummies Guide to Social Psychology. He has performed shows at the London Science Museum and Bloomsbury theatre combining science, music and live experiments on the group mind of the audience.

    Verónica Rodríguez is Lecturer in Theatre and Performance at University of Reading. Her research interests are contemporary British theatre with a focus on the intertwining of aesthetics and ethics, globalization, spectatorship, new political forms of theatre and feminism. She examines the intersection of illness and theatre and performance practices, with a focus on women’s health.

    Theresa Schütz is a theatre and performance scholar and research associate (postdoc) working at the ‘Affective Societies’ collaborative research centre at Freie Universität Berlin in Germany. Since 2013, she has also worked as a theatre journalist, primarily for the German theatre periodical Theater der Zeit and the science blog ‘Affective Societies.’

    Michael Schober is Professor of Psychology and Senior Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs at the New School for Social Research, New York (USA). His research deals with questions that cross the lines between psychology, linguistics, human-computer interaction, music, public opinion research, and design

    Kirsty Sedgman is Lecturer in Theatre at the University of Bristol and specialises in understanding audiences. As Editor of the Routledge series in Audience Research, and author of numerous publications on spectatorial engagement, she uses empirical methods to examine how people find value in live performance experiences. Currently completing a trade book for Faber – On Being Unreasonable (May 2022) – Kirsty speaks around the world about culture, participation and human behaviour.

    Lucy Thornett is a scenographer and Lecturer at University of the Arts, London. She is also completing an AHRC-funded, practice-led PhD in audience experiences of augmented reality scenographies at the University of Leeds. She is current associate editor reviews for Theatre and Performance Design journal, and was previously co-convenor of the Scenography working group for the Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA) 2015-2019.

    Paton Pak Chun Yam is a Lecturer in Psychology at De Montfort University. His primary research interests include the functions of emotion and intergroup relations. He recently expands his research repertoire, examining audience experience and (sub)genre identification and preferences. He holds a Diploma of The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music in piano performance.

    Martin Young is a lecturer in drama at Anglia Ruskin university. He has published on scenography, backstage work, and the politics of labour in the theatre industry and is a contributor to the Performance and Political Economy Research Collective. He has also worked as a freelance lighting and sound technician and designer at a range of venues, most recently the Arcola Theatre, London.

    Paul Wilshaw is a producer and actor with a learning disability. He is currently Assistant Producer at Mind the Gap Theatre Company, as well as a Ramps of the Moon Agent for Change based at Leeds Playhouse where he actively finds opportunities for people with disabilities. Paul Wilshaw is also on the board of Disability Arts Online.

    Helen Yung is an inter/transdisciplinary artist, researcher and consultant. A scenographer by training, she continues to design sets, costumes, exhibitions, installations, interactions and interventions. Yung also leads the Laboratory for Artistic Intelligence, which researches the imagination and builds multisectoral teams led by artists and artistic methods to transform how we address policy and social issues. The Lab is active in areas such as health, immigration, and impact evaluation.

    Zhumeng Zuo is a research assistant in the Department of Psychology at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. She started her journey in performing arts by taking up leading roles in drama performances. She soon developed a new interest in breaking the fourth wall to understand what was in the audience’s mind when watching the performance. She is passionate about exploring the expectations and motivations of the audience of performing arts.


    Matthew Reason is Professor of Theatre and Performance at York St John University, UK.

    Lynne Conner is Chair and Professor at the Department of Theatre at University of North Carolina at Charlotte, USA.

    Katya Johanson is Professor of Audience Research at Deakin University, Australia.

    Ben Walmsley is Professor in Audience Engagement at University of Leeds, UK.